Gravity Summit - Harvard, Sept. 12 2011

On Monday at Harvard, I did a talk for Gravity Summit called, "A Lever Long Enough: The Internet and the Future of Organizing." BrightTALK streamed the event, and here are my speaking notes: 

Real-Time Marketing

But we're also opening a week of FutureM events - Long View

We're here because we need to know what's next. 

Perhaps we're networking for business, or career transition. Maybe we're learning more about social media trends we need for our jobs. 

But I want to go just a bit bigger than "real time" and "what's next." Let's talk a little bit about the future - and when we talk about the future of marketing, we've got to address the future of all things.

As individuals and even as companies, our great challenge is not systems in terms of repeatable steps, funnels, analytics modeling or new methods of organizing content. 

The challenge IS understanding what's going on with the fundamental systems of our world. 

The marketer's challenge is not whether to invest more time in Google+, it is understanding and tracking the trends of our time.

I want to talk to you briefly about your role in actually shaping the future.

The profession of marketing in a social media age now affects global society. 

Regional expertise may suffice for a time - and "regional" now speaks of nooks and crannies of the social web as well as areas of linguistic and cultural homogeneity.

The internet is a platform big enough, and the social web is a lever that now enables marketers to move the world.

The marketers, you, are the ones who will determine what ideas spread throughout global society. And the absence of the marketer will determine which ideas die.

* This is not to say that all ideas CAN survive - the QR Code simply will not endure.

So for all of us, the question is what does the future look like. The future of relationships and sex, of religion, of politics and democracy, of work and commerce …

And what is our role? … Our role is to usher in the new.

As a take away for today, I'd love for you to think on your individual agency in this ushering in. The role of disruption is OURS.

Imagine a coal miner.

Maybe he is in West Virginia. Or maybe he's in Inner Mongolia, where minder death rates are hundreds of times what they are in the U.S. and Australia

Think about what he looks like and what he feels like after a day's work. Consider his life expectancy, his increased risk of stomach cancer, and reflect on his legacy. 

The industrial revolution, one of the greatest concentration of human progress ever known, as well as a legacy of lung disease, global warming and, today, an entrenched energy industry that won't give way to new innovations.

(In fact, the old ways will never go quietly)

Why this coal miner example? 

Coal mining is an industry I would like to disrupt. 

Influence is not just for selling dog food, TV shows or snacks. We can use the platform of the Internet and the level of social media to move the world.

Cloud computing:


Low startup costs/highly scalable (2000 a gig retailed for $9; in 2010 that was 8 cents)

While broadband costs have not dipped so sharply, communications costs have gone through the floor in the past decade. Skyping across the globe is close to free.

This means our messages and our innovations can do staggeringly more at lower costs. 

Internet Organizing:

The CMS is dead, it's just an argument that we haven't had. Audiences and creators have moved to social, to Tumblr, to Google+

Ultimately, as Rick pointed out, it's about what our grandparents knew. We have to organize people, not content, to achieve our goals. 

Digital Culture:

Daniel Pink's "Drive" - Clay Shirky's "Cognitive Surplus"

We might be pining away for a future of jetpacks and tricorders, but really it's here. It's on our phones. 

IE: TGMobile app from LinguaSys supports 50 language in live chat, and TGPhoto does text translation of billboards an adds in those 50 languages

Workplace Shifts:


Education - distance and time agnostic; textbooks, repetitional systems (Khan Academy); Academic journals

Democracy Shifts:

Frontline bureaucracy and customer service (and as an aside, will even Facebook and Google+ survive poor customer service?)

Voting - online signatures (CA court case), online voting

Local government gets stronger, global means more (trade, labor standards). The feds get weaker.

Commerce Shifts:

Food chain - local vs. factory farms

Energy and natural resources

transit (Google's self-driving car, return of rail)

Alternative currency - Facebook credits, reputational currency, barter

TV, home communications

Office space

Telepresence replaces the office meeting?

Finally, "Nations"

"the essential toolkit for a new generation of leaders and creators"

"the nation is the new corporation"

 the essential challenge is to link intrinsic value to economic well-being

PC - do our consultants find clients and then trade our reputational currency to package up the services they need?

How it's being used now …

Closing out - What is your individual agency in ushering in the future. The role of disruption is OURS.

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